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Police warn of new high-tech burglary trend in Southern California – NBC Los Angeles

Thieves are using frighteningly high-tech and creative methods: they hide cameras in the gardens of houses to monitor the right time to break in.

This trend is seen throughout Southern California, and Lost Hills is just the latest neighborhood to be affected after a homeowner turned the camera and battery found in his yard over to the sheriff on Friday.

“It’s invasive, it’s scary,” said Jim Spach, a Saratoga Hills resident.

Residents of the Saratoga Hills community in Calabasas are checking their yards this evening.

“Yeah, once I get home, I’ll probably check the neighbors’ yard too,” said Ryan Harris, a Saratoga Hills resident.

After a local resident found a camera hidden in his flowerbed, the Lost Hills Sheriff's Department released this special bulletin to educate the public about these high-tech thieves and their hidden cameras that can be used to remotely monitor – and later rob – homes.

“It just doesn't make sense that you can't live in your community and have to worry that when you return home you're going to be hurt in some way. That's wrong,” said Kim Spaulding, a Saratoga Hills resident.

“We will start setting our alarms more often. We have an alarm clock, we will probably be much more careful,” Spach said.

Last month, hidden cameras were discovered in gardens in several Southern California neighborhoods, including Glendale.

“It scares me and makes me feel like we can’t live in a safe neighborhood,” said Michael Macho, a Glendale resident.

There, the police arrested four Colombian citizens – all three were apparently part of a ring of burglary tourists.

“These houses are being hit nonstop, about one a week,” said Tammi Kazazian, a Glendale resident.

Law enforcement officials believe the same thing is happening in Saratoga Hills: a gang of thieves, usually made up of Chilean or Colombian citizens who enter on tourist visas and whose sole purpose is to surveil and rob homes.

“Current technology annoys me but does not surprise me,” Spaulding said.

Investigators said these burglar gangs also use Wi-Fi jammers during break-ins to disable surveillance cameras and alarm systems and thus remain undetected.

Anna Harden

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